Thursday, July 14, 2016

TBT: Ariel Pink - "Baby" (Donnie and Joe Emerson Cover)

The tale of Donnie and Joe Emerson's lost album, Dreamin' Wild, is easily one of my favourite music stories. 

In 1979, the teenage Emerson brothers spent their days driving tractors around their isolated Fruitland, Washington farm, listening to AM/FM soft-rock radio and dreaming of someday creating their own sound. In a brave act of parental encouragement, their father took out a loan and built the brothers a home studio on the property, where they wrote and recorded Dreamin' Wild before printing 2,000 copies that they haphazardly peddled around town. Most of those recordings went to neighbours, crowded record bins, or collected dust in their home studio.

Fast forward 29 years when a record collector phoned up the brothers, who remained in their native sleepy town, thrilled with the $5 album he'd dug up, which featured the Elvis jumpsuit-clad brothers. Soon enough, word of the decades-old soul-pop debut Dreamin' Wild and its golden lost recording, "Baby," spread in the form of Pitchfork reviews and celebrity praise. Then in their mid-50s, the Emerson brothers were suddenly responsible for a classic record they had made as kids on the farm.

Four years after Dreamin' Wild was unearthed, Ariel Pink put a similarly soulful spin on the album's seminal blue-eyed ballad, maintaining its romantic, drive-in vibe and adding only a bit more psych-pop grit. I only discovered it last week, and while nothing can top the original, the slightly modern edge freshens up the lost hit.

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